Are you one of those guys that ranks going to the doctor right up there with an IRS audit? You might be happy to know that the yearly checkup is now a thing of the past.
But you should still see your doctor from time to time to make sure you’re healthy. During a well-visit, you'll get tests to screen for problems that are common for guys your age. If everything under the hood is normal, you'll check back in every couple years to make sure you're in good running order.
These are the tests you can expect to have during your 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Blood Pressure Check
The cuff squeezing your arm measures the blood flow in your arteries during and between heartbeats.
If your reading is 120/80 or lower, you're in the normal range. If repeat checks are 140/90 or more, your pressure is high. That means you’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
You can lower your numbers with meds or by eating more healthy food and exercising.
Get It Done: Every year
Your doctor takes a small sample of your blood to check levels of this gunk in your system. It’s a prime cause of heart disease.
What’s normal? A total score below 200. That means your “good” (HDL) cholesterol is 60 or above and the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol is below 100. What’s not so great? A total score above 240 or a “good” reading below 40 and a “bad” of 160 or higher.
Your doctor will talk to you about treatment. You may need meds, or you might be able to change your numbers with better food and more physical activity.
Get It Done: Every 5 years
Blood Sugar Test
This reads the amount of sugar in your body after you haven’t eaten for 8 hours. It’s called your fasting blood sugar.
A score of 100 or lower is normal. A reading of 126 or higher means diabetes. The middle ground is prediabetes. If you catch and treat high blood sugar at this stage, you may not get the disease.
Get It Done: Every 3 years beginning at age 45
Colon Cancer Screening
This often catches growths called polyps in your colon before they become cancer.
A colonoscopy looks at the inside of your large intestine, where cancer forms. If you can't have that test, you might have a fecal occult blood test, which checks for blood in your stool. Another option is a sigmoidoscopy, which looks at part of your large intestine.
Get It Done:
In your 40s: Only if you have a family history of colon cancer
In your 50s and 60s: Every 10 years (colonoscopy), yearly (fecal occult), or every 5 years (sigmoidoscopy)
Body Mass Index (BMI)
This isn’t a test, but your doctor will get the number based on your height and weight.
If it's between 18.5 and 24.9, you're in the normal range. If it's between 25 and 29.9, you're overweight. A score of 30 or more means you're obese.
Those extra pounds can lead to heart problems and nasty diseases like diabetes, so your doctor will probably talk to you about losing some weight if your BMI is 25 or higher.
Get It Done: Every time you see the doctor
Lung Cancer Screening
You're at high risk for lung cancer if you're a heavy smoker (or you were but you’ve quit within the last 15 years) and you're 55 or older.
The doctor may start with a low-dose CT scan of your chest. This test creates an image of the inside of your body. It can spot lung cancer early, when it's easier to treat.
Get It Done: Every year starting at age 55 if you smoke heavily or did anytime in the last 15 years
About 20% of people with HIV don't know they have it. IV drug users, people who don't practice safe sex, and men who have sex with men are most likely to get it.
The test is simple. A doctor will take your blood or swab your mouth for saliva and send it to a lab.
Get It Done: Once at least. You can have it again if think you’ve been exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis C Test
The CDC says everyone born between 1945 and 1965 should get a blood test to check for the hep C virus.
It’s spread by contact with the blood of someone who has it. Most people get it from a dirty needle, either in a health care setting or from injecting street drugs. It can cause a liver infection and, if left untreated, liver cancer. You can have it for years and not know it.
Get It Done: Once. You can repeat it if you think you’ve been exposed to the disease.